loves you, after all!"
Then, when quiet joy had taken the place of mad delight, there was a
swoop down upon the floor, an impetuous hiding of brimming eyes in the
white counterpane, and a dozen impassioned promises to herself and to
something higher than herself, to be a better girl.
The mood lasted, and deepened, and still Rose did not move. Her heart
was on its knees before Stephen's faithful love, his chivalry, his
strength. Her troubled spirit, like a frail boat tossed about in the
rapids, seemed entering a quiet harbor, where there were protecting
shores and a still, still evening star. Her sails were all torn and
drooping, but the harbor was in sight, and the poor little
weather-beaten craft could rest in peace.
A period of grave reflection now ensued,--under the bedclothes, where
one could think better. Suddenly an inspiration seized her,--an
inspiration so original, so delicious, and above all so humble and
praiseworthy, that it brought her head from her pillow, and she sat bolt
upright, clapping her hands like a child.
"The very thing!" she whispered to herself gleefully. "It will take
courage, but I'm sure of my ground after what he said before them all,
and I'll do it. Grandma in Biddeford buying church carpets, Stephen in
Portland--was ever such a chance?"
The same glowing Rose came downstairs, two steps at a time, next
morning, bade her grandmother good-by with suspicious pleasure, and sent
her grandfather away on an errand which, with attendant conversation,
would consume half the day. Then bundles after bundles and baskets after
baskets were packed into the wagon,--behind the seat, beneath the seat,
and finally under the lap-robe. She gave a dramatic flourish to the
whip, drove across the bridge, went through Pleasant River village, and
up the leafy road to the little house, stared the "To Let" sign
scornfully in the eye, alighted, and ran like a deer through the aisles
of waving corn, past the kitchen windows, to the back door.
"If he has kept the big key in the old place under the stone, where we
both used to find it, then he hasn't forgotten me--or anything," thought
The key was there, and Rose lifted it with a sob of gratitude. It was
but five minutes' work to carry all the bundles from the wagon to the
back steps, and another five to lead old Tom across the road into the
woods and tie him to a tree quite out of the sight of any passer-by.
When, after running back, she turned the key in the lock, her heart gave
a leap almost of terror, and she started at the sound of her own
footfall. Through the open door the sunlight streamed into the dark
room. She flew to tables and chairs, and gave a rapid sweep of the hand
over their surfaces.
"He has been dusting here,--and within a few days, too," she thought
The kitchen was perfection, as she always knew it would be, with one
door opening to the shaded road and the other looking on the river;Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>